Stimulants
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Stimulants, which speed up the body’s functioning, include prescription drugs, such as amphetamines and methylphenidate, and illicitly produced drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Also called “uppers,” stimulants are available in the form of pills, powder and injectable liquids. Some other commonly used names are “ice,” “snow,” “speed,” “flake,” and “crystal.”

While the types of stimulants vary, they all provide users with the same overall effect of increased energy and alertness levels. Some stimulants are even used for medicinal purpose – Adderall and Ritalin are prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Similarly, while some stimulants like caffeine are relatively harmless in low doses, others like cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines are not only illegal but also dangerous and highly addictive.

Following are some of the common stimulants:

  • Caffeine
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Amphetamines

Addiction to stimulants

In 2016, an estimated 1.7 million Americans (aged 12 or above) misused stimulants. A person can misuse and abuse stimulants for various reasons. For some people, they may take prescription stimulants initially to treat a condition but may end up consuming an increased quantity than prescribed, which can lead to addiction. Some people may start taking stimulants without an actual prescription too, for example, some teenagers and college students take drugs like Adderall to enhance their focus and energy in academics and sports. Likewise, illegal stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine (also known as meth) are abused for the explicit purpose of getting high, but can cause dependence within one or two uses itself.

This is why knowing the symptoms of stimulant abuse or addiction is important, as that can help one in identifying if they or someone they know may be developing a dependence or addiction to these drugs.

Stimulants abuse: symptoms and side effects

When not taken under a doctor’s supervision, stimulants are frequently taken to obtain a ‘high,’ improve one’s mental and physical performance, increase activity, reduce appetite and extend wakefulness for a longer period.

They target the central nervous system, increasing a person’s heart rate and breathing, and raising their blood pressure. A person may have more energy, be more talkative and alert, and have a decreased appetite. However, users may also develop symptoms like restlessness, anxiousness and moodiness. When taken over a long period, one can experience tremors, headaches, vomiting, excessive sweating and abdominal cramps.

To feel better or even just normal, people develop the need to consume the drug repeatedly. However, with time, the body develops a tolerance to the drug, which leads a person to consume an increased quantity of the drug to feel the same effects. This can lead to long-term stimulants abuse and addiction, where a person’s entire life revolves around drugs.

Following are some of the health effects of stimulants:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain
  • High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in nose if snorted
  • Respiratory failure if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses, such as HIV, if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss due to repressed appetite
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility
  • Disorientation, apathy, confusion and exhaustion
  • Irritability and mood disturbances
  • Increased frequency of risky behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression

Once someone develops an addiction to stimulants, they may find it next to impossible to stop taking the drug on their own. In fact, doing so may even be dangerous, as often, the withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.

Stimulants abuse: withdrawal symptoms

Chronic abuse of stimulants can also increase an individual’s risk of developing dependence and/or addiction to stimulants. For those who develop physical dependence or addiction, an attempt to reduce their dosage or stop the drug usage completely may lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Abstinence from taking stimulants can cause their users to experience any of the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sedation
  • Depressed mood
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Decreased attention
  • Irritable
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased appetite

This is why going addiction-free from stimulants should be done under the supervision of an expert.

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Treatment for addiction to stimulants

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach for stimulants, however, treatment programs usually include a supervised stimulant detox treatment and/or therapy. A detox program helps get rid of the toxic substances, with the experts treating the initial withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the type and frequency of the abused drug, detox can last for days to a few weeks.

Though detoxification treatment is an important part of tackling and overcoming addiction-related disorders, it cannot be considered a complete treatment in itself. After detox, the recovering individual will need therapy to understand the nature of addiction and learn the necessary skills to live a drug-free life. A person may also need treatment for any co-occurring disorders they have, such as depression, which can affect their recovery and lead to a relapse if not treated.

Why choose Sovereign Health

If you or your loved one is addicted to stimulants, the stimulant treatment program at Sovereign Health of El Paso, Texas provides effective treatment, therapy and continuing care resources. Before joining any program, our patients undergo a physical and mental health evaluation that diagnoses their illness as well as the presence of any co-occurring disorder. Based on this evaluation, our patients receive a personalized treatment plan, which may include medical detox, therapy, counseling and aftercare.

With the goal of providing a treatment that lasts, we offer holistic treatment programs that employ evidence-based treatment modalities to help address the physical as well as the psychological effects of substance abuse. In addition to medically supervised detox, some of the treatment modalities offered at our state-of-the-art treatment center include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), neurofeedback, individual, group, and family therapy and experiential therapies, such as art therapy and expressive arts therapy. After completion of the initial treatment, the patients also receive long-term supportive care through 12-step programs or educational events, which helps them in sticking to their journey to a lasting recovery and living a drug-free and healthy life.

To find out more about the stimulant treatment program at Sovereign Health or to locate the finest stimulant detox centers near you, contact our 24/7 helpline and speak with our admissions specialist. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.

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“The therapy here helped me really look at myself and find that I am a strong individual that can deal with this and move forward in my life.”- Katie